NOTE: Bryan was elected by the Mecklenburg County GOP to replace Sen. Dan Bishop in North Carolina’s Senate District 39 on 9/26/19.
Robert P. Bryan III was appointed by the House to the UNC BOG in June 2017 and is on the committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs. Bryan is a former commercial real estate lawyer, Republican legislator, “school choice” advocate and charter operator, and Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategies and Real Estate at Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions.
Bryan was Republican legislator from 2012-2016. Notably, Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by the conservative Koch brothers and tied to the Tea Party, spent at least $7,300 on Bryan’s behalf when he was a candidate in 2012. In 2013 Rob Bryan’s campaign paid membership dues for him to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Previously, he was a partner at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, where he worked for ten years between 2006 and 2016.
As a legislator, Bryan is most well-known for his advocacy for charters and vouchers. Wealthy charter school donor John Bryan contributed about $17,000 to Rob Bryan’s campaigns for the state legislature between 2013 and 2016. In 2013 Bryan sponsored the legislation titled “Opportunity Scholarship Act” which created private school vouchers that siphon “desperately needed money” away from public education and funnel it to private schools not held to the same educational standards. The legislation was folded into the 2013 budget signed by Pat McCrory. In 2014 Bryan sponsored a voucher bill with “less oversight and looser standards.”
Rob Bryan later co-sponsored House Bill 1080 “Achievement School District,” which turned over five struggling schools to charter school operators despite a similar plan’s failure to remedy student performance in Tennessee. Again, John Bryan’s money was behind the legislation; he said his financial commitment to Rob Bryan’s campaigns helped win legislative approval of the Achievement School District, which allowed a charter takeover of the state’s lowest performing schools. The bill faced widespread criticism for “dismantling public education.” Moreover, Bryan is a board member of Achievement for All Children, a Charlotte-based charter organization that is, unsurprisingly, also connected to John Bryan. Later, Achievement for All Children was hired to manage the takeover of an elementary school chosen for the renamed Innovative School District. In short, Rob Bryan pushed legislation while he was in the House that later benefitted his organization.
Bryan is a social conservative who said the Charlotte ordinance that led to HB2 was “unnecessary, unconstitutional and so poorly worded that children and others could be unsafe…in locker rooms and shower facilities.” From 2006 to 2012 Rob Bryan was on the Board of Directors of the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte. This organization described itself as a resource for low-income women and teens, but in fact it was a fake clinic that provided misinformation and pressured pregnant young people to not have abortions. These fake clinics, which do not have any medical personnel on staff, receive hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in the North Carolina state budget.
After Bryan lost his reelection bid in 2016 he became the Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategies and Real Estate at Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions. Bryan’s LinkedIn indicates he has served as the Chief Development Officer for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare since that September. 85 percent of Cardinal’s funding comes from Medicaid, which included $587 million in fiscal year 2015-16, plus $83.8 million from the state, and $7.2 million from counties. In May of 2017 the Office of the State Auditor released a report on Cardinal that revealed that Cardinal paid its CEOs $1.2 million more than the law allowed. In addition, the group spent money on luxurious perks like “parties, alcohol, first-class airline tickets, and other luxuries.”